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  • Writer's pictureRamesh Chaurasia

How the pandemic has pushed more children into labour

Ramesh-chaurasia-How the pandemic has pushed more children into labour

Ramesh-chaurasia-How the pandemic has pushed more children into labour

Child labour is an evil prevailing in society that violates the basic human rights of children including their right to education, takes away their dignity, and affects their mental and physical health. Not only that, but child labour also makes children vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation. It traps families in the vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty as they end up being unskilled for the rest of their lives, thus making it extremely difficult for them to access the basic amenities of life including quality and quantity of food, and exposing them to hunger and malnutrition.

In India, around 10.1 million children are working as labourers with Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh having high incidences of child labour. Just the way the pandemic introduced new economic and social challenges, it has also exacerbated some of the existing challenges. One of them is child labour with a study conducted by Campaign against Child Labour indicating that the global pandemic increased the proportion of child labour from 28% to 79%.

There is a myriad of reasons behind how the coronavirus caused a rise in child labour. I have mentioned the most important ones below:-

1. The economic hardships caused by the pandemic

As lockdowns were imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus, businesses were shut down and people lost their jobs which led to a rise in the unemployment rates. The workers working in the informal sector were the worst hit. This economic deprivation and the loss of income pushed people further into poverty, making it almost impossible for them to make both ends meet.

In such a situation, children were forced to start working to help their families survive the brunt of the pandemic.

2. Illness or death of the breadwinners

When this deadly disease started infecting the breadwinners of the lower economic and social strata and they did not have the resources to access quality healthcare, their children had to engage in different jobs to pay the medical bills of their parents.

Furthermore, the death of the working members of the family made the situation horrifying for the children. They not only had to work for their livelihood but also became highly vulnerable to exploitation.

3. Restricted mobility

During the pandemic, restrictions had to be imposed on the mobility of people. And because of this, it became difficult for people working in non-governmental organizations and other social activists working against child labour to monitor the situation and ensure the safety of the vulnerable children populations.

4. Reduced access to education

It has been found out by studies that the children who are not studying are more vulnerable to child labour.

With the outbreak of the pandemic, as the entire education sector moved online, children belonging to marginalized economic and social sections of the society could not continue with their education and some of them also dropped out because they lack access to internet and technological devices like mobile phones and laptops. As education became all about privilege, underprivileged children were pushed into labour.

What steps have been taken by the government?

Article 24 of the Indian Constitution prohibits the employment of children under the age of 14 in any kind of hazardous job. The government has taken many initiatives for the eradication of child labour from the society. This includes the following:-

  • Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act.

  • The National Child Labour Project: A scheme undertaken by the government under which children are withdrawn from work and are given vocational training, bridge education, stipend, healthcare in special training centers.

  • The Right to Education Act: It guarantees free quality education to all children between the age of 6 and 14 years.

  • The government has announced that children who lost both of their parents due to the pandemic are going to receive some kind of monetary support via PM Cares.

What is the way forward?

To take care of the worsening situation of child labour, the strict implementation of the existing schemes is important along with the introduction of new policies. Children who are struggling financially because of the loss of their earning family members should be given free education and other kinds of skill training along with financial support.

I strongly believe that there is a huge need for the concerned authorities to work towards addressing the root causes of poverty and unemployment that aggravated during the covid-19 and making the different economic sectors resilient to the effects of pandemic. This would play a significant role in curbing the practice of child labour.


Author-Ramesh Chaurasia

A superior and highly experienced entrepreneur in the field of business for quite a long time now. Also, a philanthropist, author and public speaker who believes in working towards the overall well being and betterment of the society as a whole.

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